November 30, 2006

The Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board today approved a project to reduce groundwater pumping up to 1,358,400 gallons per day (gpd) at a Charlotte County citrus grove.

The Facilitating Agricultural Resource Management Systems (FARMS) program is a cost-share reimbursement program that conserves water and protects water quality.

The FARMS project, proposed by Ben Hill Griffin, Inc., C & S Grove, is located within the Shell Creek Watershed in Charlotte County. The existing water use permit authorizes an annual average groundwater withdrawal of 1,358,400 gpd, for the irrigation of a 1,665-acre citrus grove.

The primary goal of the project is to reduce intermediate and upper Floridan Aquifer groundwater withdrawals by 100 percent through the use of an existing surface water reservoir and existing grove ditches to irrigate 1,335 acres of the citrus grove. The project components will include two surface water pump stations, filtration, piping, a weather station, culverted risers and infrastructure necessary to connect the surface water reservoirs into the existing irrigation system.

The FARMS program is jointly funded by state appropriations, the District’s General Fund, the District’s Peace River basin board and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

A total of 3.4 million gallons per day (mgd) of ground water has been conserved through operational FARMS projects. It is anticipated that a total of 10.1 mgd of ground water will be offset once all 26 current Board-approved FARMS projects are operational. The FARMS Program is expected to reduce groundwater pumping by 40 mgd over the next 20 years.

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